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In mathematics, a paraboloid is a quadric surface of special kind. There are two kinds of paraboloids: elliptic and hyperbolic. The elliptic paraboloid is shaped like an oval cup and can have a maximum or minimum point. In a suitable coordinate system with three axes x, y and z, it can be represented by the equation

where a and b are constants that dictate the level of curvature in the x-z and y-z planes respectively.

This is an elliptic paraboloid which opens upward.

The hyperbolic paraboloid (not to be confused with a hyperboloid) is a doubly ruled surface shaped like a saddle. In a suitable coordinate system, a hyperbolic paraboloid can be represented by the equation

This is a hyperbolic paraboloid that opens up along the x-axis and down along the y-axis.



With a = b an elliptic paraboloid is a paraboloid of revolution: a surface obtained by revolving a parabola around its axis. It is the shape of the parabolic reflectors used in mirrors, antenna dishes, and the like; and is also the shape of the surface of a rotating liquid, a principle used in liquid mirror telescopes. It is also called a circular paraboloid.

A point light source at the focal point produces a parallel light beam. This also works the other way around: a parallel beam of light incident on the paraboloid is concentrated at the focal point. This applies also for other waves, hence parabolic antennas.

The hyperbolic paraboloid is a doubly ruled surface: it contains two families of mutually skew lines. The lines in each family are parallel to a common plane, but not to each other.


The elliptic paraboloid, parametrized simply as

has Gaussian curvature

and mean curvature

which are both always positive, have their maximum at the origin, become smaller as a point on the surface moves further away from the origin, and tend asymptotically to zero as the said point moves infinitely away from the origin.

The hyperbolic paraboloid, when parametrized as

has Gaussian curvature

and mean curvature

Multiplication table

If the hyperbolic paraboloid

is rotated by an angle of π/4 in the +z direction (according to the right hand rule), the result is the surface

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